2010 Karen Cox awardees

Tammy Hetland, Becky Mundt, Karen Nave, Kim Watterson, and Darla Williams, extended studies, Billings Public Schools. These five teachers work with gifted students in grades 3-6, at 22 elementary schools in Billings. Their grant will allow them to purchase materials so these students can explore real-world science.


Science is the subject that most intrigues young high-ability learners, yet it is taught less frequently than any other subject in elementary school. Plus, gifted students are significantly more likely to retain science content when they have the chance to learn at a fast pace and think in ways associated with inquiry: asking questions, planning and conducting investigations, and using appropriate techniques to gather data. This grant will allow them to do just that.


Tyra McDonald, grades 6-8, C.S. Porter Middle School, Missoula. Tyra’s grant will purchase seven “clickers” so teachers at C.S. Porter can do presentations on inter-write boards or projectors without  going back to the computer every time they need to change slides. Often the computer is located in the back of the room, which hinders group discussion and classroom management. The clickers will allow teachers to move around the classroom and switch slides from any location. Sweet and simple.


Kasey Dirnberger, grades 6-8, C.S. Porter Middle School, Missoula. Kasey’s grant will purchase an internet hub and router, allowing the school’s exploratory teacher, who works with all grade levels, to use laptop computers with wireless internet access. This will free up the school’s current Computer On Wheels (30 computers in one cabinet) for use in the rest of the school’s classrooms. The goal: more computer access for all students and teachers.


Vicki Wittman, grades 9-12, Bozeman High School. Vicki aims to increase the reading skills of struggling readers by offering more high-interest, high-level books associated with the research-based Read 180 program. Currently, students in Read 180 classes for multiple semesters often run out of high-interest books. They tend to avoid libraries and have difficulty finding books they like within their reading level. The grant funds will purchase additional Read 180 books to keep those students reading and loving it.


Katherine Bachrach, K-8 counseling and guidance, Helena Flats School, Kalispell. Katherine will use her grant to purchase “Why Try” training and materials. The successful “Why Try” program reduces truancy and classroom distractions by engaging at-risk students. The program teaches students essential life skills such as effective communication and listening, understanding the consequences of their actions, making decisions, resisting peer pressure, overcoming challenges, and the importance of personal effort and motivation.